For years, the one thing that has symbolized the professional physician is the ubiquitous white coat. Patients and colleagues alike have come to regard it as the garment of choice that distinguishes a doctor among a sea of others in scrubs.
If the Society of Healthcare Epidemiology of America has any say, those days will change. The organization has issued new infection control recommendations that include getting rid of the white coats, which the group says could carry germs from patient to patient. The group also recommends doing away with neckties, wristwatches, and other pieces of attire that wouldn’t normally be disinfected after patient care.
The recommendations appear online in the February issue of the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology .
While health professionals that regard the white coats as a sign or professionalism are not likely to give up the white coats anytime soon, SHEA has said they would like to see a time when the coats are given up in favor of scrubs, or at least policies that would require physicians to launder and change the coats more often when they are seeing patients.
In the meantime, SHEA continues to suggest that healthcare professionals continue to practice good infection control habits such as regular hand washing, proper disinfection of patient care surfaces, and careful cleaning and disinfection of invasive devices.
What do you think?